NCC News reporter John Perik broke the news this week of the discovery of two antisemitic letters in the Pan Am flight 103 library archives — and that discovery has stirred a huge campus controversy. The first letter is a Christmas card containing antisemitic language. The second is a mother’s day card containing a swastika. John Perik breaks down how the Syracuse University community is reacting to the surprising discovery.
ANTISEMITIC LETTERS FROM THE PAST… REWRITING THE PRESENT…
MOKOKA: “I was honestly almost surprised by just how blatant it was if that makes sense.”
PERIK: Syracuse University senior OFENTSE MOKOKA is still trying to make sense of the anti-Semitic comments recently discovered in letters written by Syracuse students ERIC AND JASON COKER, ONLY A SHORT TIME BEFORE THEY BOARDED PAN AM FLIGHT 103 in Scotland, 34 years ago.
MOKOKA: “I think what was also at the forefront of my mind was how has it taken this long for us to find this information.”
MOKOKA (maa-coke-a) IS ONE OF THE 35 S-U STUDENTS CHOSEN TO REPRESENT THE VICTIMS OF THE BOMBING this year, THROUGH SYRACUSE’S REMEMBRANCE PROGRAM…
Natural sound of 2022 Remembrance Ceremony.
MOKOKA: “We need to keep changing we need to keep moving forward and we need to keep redefining what is it is we want to do as a program and as a campus.”
THE LETTERS WERE DISCOVERED BY ONE OF THE remembrance SCHOLARS WHILE GOING THROUGH THE PAN AM FLIGHT 103 ARCHIVES UP ON THE SIXTH FLOOR OF BIRD LIBRARY…
MOKOKA: “I can’t even imagine what they were going through when they found it and actually had to sit there and look at it.”
WE FIRST BROKE THE STORY ON TUESDAY. SINCE WE’VE TALKED TO STUDENTS LIKE GABBY KEPNES.
KEPNES: “I don’t know why we are finding about this now because Remembrance week happens every year and they go through the Archives every year.”
THE CAMPUS RABBI, ETHAN BAIR.
RABBI BAIR: “This is antisemitism in its clearest form.”
EVEN SYRACUSE’S DEAN OF SPIRITUAL LIFE BRIAN KONKOL EXPRESSING HIS CONCERN FOR THE CURRENT REMEMBRANCE SCHOLARS.
DEAN KONKOL: “We are here and feel whatever you feel compelled to feel at this time.”
FROM EVERYONE WE TALKED TO, THE MESSAGE WAS THE SAME.
KEPNES: “This is like a snapshot of who they were as students and that obviously is not someone anyone at this school should tolerate, anyone anywhere should tolerate.”
BUT THEN I WALKED INTO PAT BURAK’S OFFICE.
BURAK: “They were very human.”
BURAK IS A RUSSIAN LITERATURE PROFESSOR AT SYRACUSE… SHE HAD JASON COKER IN CLASS BACK IN THE 80S…
BURAK: “If we’ve become a society where we are going to sanction what a child said to his mother their mother 20 years ago. I think we as a society are going to have a lot of problems on our hands.
PAT BURAK SAYS NO ONE SHOULD EVER WRITE ANYTHING OFFENSIVE – but SHE ALSO SAYS 33 YEARS AGO WAS A DIFFERENT TIME…
BURAK: “In 1987 people were held to a lower standard the society had not risen to the level of social conscience that we are at no.”
JASON Coker WROTE BURAK A CHRISTMAS LETTER IN DECEMBER of 1988.
BURAK: “and the bottom says seasons greetings and i always end it with i’m waiitng to see you then jason”
THE LETTER WAS SENT JUST BEFORE THE PLANE HE BOARDED EXPLODED IN THE SKIES OVER LOCKERBIE, SCOTLAND.
(LOCAL TV NEWS REPORT FROM DAY OF ATTACK)
“The SU Community tries to seek comfort tonight after today’s horrible tragedy.”
THE LETTER WAS ALSO SENT ONLY A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE LETTER WITH THE OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE SENT TO HIS FAMILY.
PERIK: will this ever change how you view jason?
PERIK:: Now in your opinion though what should we do with these letters should they be taken out of the archives?
OFENTSE MOKOKA: “I think that’s a very difficult question but I do think even if they were taken out of the archives I wouldn’t want them to be forgotten that they exist.”
Remembrance scholar OFENTSE MOKOKA also has an answer to THE QUESTION MANY people ARE ASKING across campus right now:… HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD…
MOKOKA: “I don’t think we need to completely shift out of the focus on Pan Am 103, and terrorism and educating on terroirsm but I think that’s a very big question of who we remember how we remember and why they are remembered.”
AND IT IS MEMORIES, BOTH GOOD AND BAD, THAT WILL WILL now help WRITE A NEW FUTURE — FOR S-U’S MOST HONORED SCHOLARSHIP…. Remembering one of the worst tragedies in university history—but now…in a NEW way. JOHN PERIK, N-C-C News.
Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) — NCC News reporter John Perik broke the news this week of the discovery of two antisemitic letters in the Pan Am flight 103 library archives — and that discovery has stirred a huge campus controversy. The first letter is a Christmas card containing antisemitic language. The second is a mother’s day card containing a swastika. John Perik breaks down how the Syracuse University community is reacting to the surprising discovery.